Croke Park News 2012
Negotiations on an extension to the Croke Park agreement will intensify early in the New Year. IMPACT and other public service unions had preliminary meetings with public service management last month after the Government issued an invitation to talks.
Many public service allowances form part of core pay and many lower paid workers are dependent on allowances for a “significant proportion of take-home pay,” according to a report from the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
IMPACT and other public service unions are to meet management next Wednesday (28th November) for an initial discussion on an extension of the Croke Park agreement. The decision to accept the Government’s invitation to talks was made by the ICTU Public Services Committee yesterday.
The Government today invited unions to discussions on public service cost-cutting and related issues. In effect, the proposed negotiation will be about a possible extension of the Croke Park agreement, in which guarantees of no compulsory redundancies and no further pay cuts will be extended if new cost-saving measures can be agreed.
IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody was recently quizzed by the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee on the issue of public service allowances. He revealed that the Department of Public Expenditure and reform has indicated its desire for a fast-track process to adjudicate on Government proposals to abolish certain allowances. Unions have said they will consider a fast-track process when the details are tabled. Read Shay’s opening statement HERE.
The Implementation Body, which is charged with verifying savings achieved under the Croke Park agreement, has emphatically rejected claims that the savings have been overestimated. The implementation body stands over its report of €1.5 billion in recurring savings achieved in the first two years of the agreement. It says Croke Park is on course to deliver annual savings of €3.3 billion, net of additional pension costs, by 2015.
The IMF’s brief discussion of international public service pay comparisons in its September 2012 country report on Ireland is just one interpretation of how Irish public service pay rates compare to those in other countries.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Ireland’s progress under the ‘troika’ package says Ireland’s approach to public service pay has “helped keep industrial peace, protect frontline services, raise public sector productivity, and deliver agreed savings in a durable way.”
Efficiencies and reforms worth almost €1.5 billion a year have been achieved in the first two years of the Croke Park agreement. The second annual report of the Croke Park national implementation body, published today, describes these as ‘sustainable savings,’ meaning that they will recur each year into the future.
Updated Wednesday 13th June 2012
By 2015, the total annual cost of public service pay and pensions will have fallen by approximately €3.3 billion (or almost 19%) from its 2009 peak if the Croke Park agreement remains in place, according to figures provided to the Croke Park implementation body by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Total payroll and non-pay savings of almost €163 million were delivered by civil servants and non-commercial state agency staff in the second year of the Croke Park agreement, a figure expected to rise to over €184 million a year when this year’s non-payroll initiatives are fully implemented.
Health service staff delivered non-payroll savings of over €238 million in the second year of the Croke Park agreement, with payroll savings of over €165 million bringing the total to €404 million. This represents 43% of all the savings achieved in the second year of the deal.
Local authority staff delivered total payroll and non-pay savings of almost €120 million in the second year of the Croke Park agreement, a figure expected to rise to almost €133 million a year when non-payroll initiatives are fully implemented. Some €15 million of €88 million in payroll savings came from reductions in overtime and allowances and the use of shorter working weeks and term-time arrangements.
Staff in the education sector delivered total payroll and non-pay savings of over €180 million in the second year of the Croke Park agreement. Payroll savings of just over €160 million made up the lion’s share.
Croke Park-related payroll and non-pay savings in the defence and justice sectors amounted to over €153 million in the second year of the agreement, a figure expected to rise to almost €155 million a year following full implementation of non-pay reforms in the prison service.
Delegates at IMPACT’s recent conference passed motions condemning the practice of rehiring retired public servants at a time when nearly 437,000 people are out of work. The union has been particularly critical of the Department of Agriculture, which continues to engage retired vets as contract meat inspectors despite spending considerable sums training existing staff to do the work much more cheaply.
The leader of Ireland’s largest public service trade union has predicted that “substantial” savings will be verified when the body charged with implementing the Croke Park agreement makes its second annual report next month.
IMPACT has expressed opposition to proposed changes to the civil service PMDS (performance management and development system), which would mean a fixed percentage of staff receiving poor performance ratings and forgoing increments as a result
By 2015, the total annual cost of public service pay and pensions will have fallen by €3.3 billion (or almost 19%) from its 2009 peak, according to figures provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The figures, which were given to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee by the Chair of the Croke Park National Implementation Body on 12th April, take account of pay cuts, the pension levy, reductions in pension payments, and savings delivered through staff reductions and reforms under the Croke Park agreement.
IMPACT and other unions will insist that detailed safeguards and procedures set out in the Croke Park agreement are followed whenever outsourcing is proposed, with unions insisting that detailed safeguards and procedures set out in the Croke Park agreement are followed whenever outsourcing is proposed.
IMPACT AND other unions will defend arrangements for paid long-term sick leave when talks on public service sick leave and its management start soon. The Government has signalled its intention to legislate to revise sick leave arrangements from this year.
Minister of State for Public Expenditure and Reform Brian Hayes delivered another strong defence of the Croke Park agreement and public servants at the Fine Gael ard fheis, where he told delegates that the Government wants the Croke Park agreement to succeed. In a strong defence of public servants, and to loud applause, he said: “Those who work in the public sector of this country are not the enemy.
Early planning, good leadership and staff involvement have helped Teagasc achieve Croke Park reforms, with annual savings of over €680,000 and a 25% reduction in staffing, while meeting an 80% increase in demand for training places, according to a paper presented at a major conference today (Thursday).
Allowances and premium payments will likely be in the news over the coming days. That’s because the Department of Public Enterprise and Reform (DPER) is set to announce the outcome of a review of the payments across the public service at the end of February.
Final details of the scale and scope of public service retirements will emerge next week, when the deadline for retiring on a ‘pre-pay cut pension’ passes. The latest figures from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform suggest that some 6,270 people will retire at the end of February, but this figure may change marginally.
The Government has confirmed that new public servants will not get allowances or premium payments paid to existing staff, pending the outcome of a review currently underway. The same goes for staff promoted, newly assigned or transferred into work areas where allowances exist.
IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody’s opinion article, about public sector retirements, published in the Irish Examiner. There’s been more than a hint of panic in some of the debate about retirements from the public service at the end of this month, with lurid reports of the possible effect on services and costs to the exchequer. A lot of this has been based on assumptions rather than facts.
There’s been a hint of panic in recent media coverage of expected retirements from the public service at the end of this month, with lurid reports of the possible effect on services and costs to the exchequer. Thankfully, most media coverage has been based on assumptions and misinterpretations rather than facts.
The exchequer would save just €50 million if public service increments were frozen in 2012 – less than a fifth of the €250-300 million cited by some commentators – according to IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody.
The big ticket savings from Croke Park have so far mostly been related to staff reductions. But many local and sectoral initiatives are also creating savings through changed working practices and other initiatives.